60% of C-suite execs at $250 million companies plan to hire in Q2

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A new poll from West Monroe also reports that 66% plan to track employee vaccinations, but have no idea how to do it.

Image: iStockphoto/Jirapong Manustrong

Hiring, hybrid, gender, reopenings and requirements were the focus of the fourth iteration of West Monroe’s quarterly survey of 150 C-suite executives from companies with revenues of $250 million, conducted March 22-25. The good news for job seekers–and those looking to transition–is 60% expect to hire more staff for Q2. Meanwhile, 33% see little to no change, and only 7% expect to lay off staff.

COVID-19 continues to play a critical role in the potential return to the office, because even though 32% of respondents have no idea how they’ll execute it, 66% plan to track employees’ vaccinations. Thirty-four percent said they’re not tracking which employees have been vaccinated and have no plans to do so; 14% said they’ll wait for a “more specific contract tracing or re-entry tech or system.

SEE: COVID-19 workplace policy (TechRepublic Premium)

The biggest challenges respondents see are building and keeping a company culture, managing employee expectations prior to making a final decision and deciding when to start phasing into the model of hybrid work.

Priorities are employee wants and needs, customer/client wants and needs and leadership’s wants and needs. 

They’re also not entirely prepared (only 19% are) to fully implement hybrid work models, but just less than half (48%) assure they’ll do so by summer. One-in-five said implementation of hybrid models are already in the works.

Yet employees are impatient: 68% of C-suite respondents said the top request they’re getting from their employees right now is more clarity and “certainty on timing” regarding what will happen when the pandemic ends.

A quarter of the execs said they’ll use the employee vaccine percentage to determine when the offices will reopen and return to on-site work. 

Protocols may be distracting C-suite execs from reckoning with the nearly 3 million who left the enterprise in 2020 due to COVID-19: 23% said they’re not taking action at their organization on the pandemic-caused exodus of women from the workforce. Yet, 64% said they’ll provide more flexible work arrangements, 25% will adjust hiring practices, 23% said they’ll form employee resource groups and 17% said they’ll increase their childcare benefits.

Meanwhile, employees have their own demands, with 73% of respondents saying employees are requesting permanent WFH/remote arrangements and 49% are asking for additional equipment for the home office, 21% said they want compensation adjustments, promotion and bonuses. 

They are likely to be heard, as nearly three-in-four execs said they are dealing with permanent remote work requests. 

When asked about the most important metric in the return to the office, 26% said it was their employees willingness to return to on-site, 25% base it on the vaccination percentages among staff and 17% said they want to wait until social distancing requirements are lifted.

Employee productivity and retention are viewed by 28% as the biggest threat to the company, while another 28% cited government-imposed lockdowns. Eleven percent said that potential tax increases and the very general, yet unexplained 11% “other” are big threats.

Customer experience has unquestionably changed in the time of the coronavirus and the C-suite execs said their response has included, (in order):

Retaining and attracting the right talent while managing employee performance are the top talent challenges respondents said. For new hires, 41% said there will be no changes in the types of employees they are hiring, 36% will hire more full remote workers, 16% will hire more independent contractors, 12% will hire more part-time workers, 12% will hire more staff augmentation firms than usual and 3% said they’ll hire more overseas workers.

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